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Accident Investigation


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  • Accident Investigation

    OK, I gotta ask. Why dont sheriff's departments work traffic? I relocated (against my will) to Florida 2 years ago. The other day I'm walking to the grandsons bus stop a block away with an umbrella, since its monsooning. We live in a neighborhood that dead ends, off a 6 lane roadway. A block off the 6 lane road this silver Buick or oldsmobile drives past, with the front end destroyed, fan grinding on the shroud. Another car is following it, blowing its horn. Ok, I still got some index of suspicious. Some sort of infraction in progress, probably a hit and run. I got the first 3 numbers of the plate. I hear cars on the 6 lane grinding over glass and plastic. So I call 911 for the apparent hit and run.

    Operator says we'll transfer you to the highway patrol. " BUT THE GUY IS GETTING AWAY!! Tell the highway patrol. I'm on hold 15 minutes. Guess what? Sheriff doesn't work accidents. They didnt even want any BOL info. Turf the call to the FHP.

    Is this common throughout Florida? I'm amazed at the amout of lawlessness and equipment violations I see daily. I sold my motorcycles because I just don't see myself riding around in this Mad Max roadway circus. I'm sitting at a redlight for a left turn, no cars in the opposite direction. Guy behind me blasting his horn. He finally pulls around me, flips me off, then makes the left turn against the light, of course, from the right lane. Thats pretty common s well.

    Screw it, I ran the light, too.

    Next expenditure is front and rear drive cams.

  • #2
    I can't speak for Florida, but in my state, every state, county and city law enforcement agency has a specific mission (area of responsibility) as spelled out by the Legislature. Doing it this way prevents turf wars, poaching and misuse of public funds by keeping you from spending your agency's budget money on another agency's responsibility.

    In your situation there are two schools of thought. One is that the nearest unit could have been sent to stabilize the situation until the appropriate jurisdiction can arrive and take over. OTOH, you describe what sounds like a non-injury hit and run in monsoon weather. Here in simply moderate California rain, we get so many crashes we don't have the resources to respond to every accident. As a matter of policy, my agency will only respond to crashes with injuries and tells all others to come to the station and make a counter report. Even then, we can get so backed up on injury crashes in the rain that by the time an officer arrives, the injured parties may have been removed from the scene by ambulance an hour ago and all that's left are wrecked vehicles.
    Going too far is half the pleasure of not getting anywhere


    • #3
      Most SOs work huge areas with minimal staffing. Contracts are made with another agency to investigate crashes, DUIs, etc. as they have the manpower.

      Now go home and get your shine box!


      • #4
        Can't speak for Florida. Here in Colorado the majority of traffic enforcement, and nearly all traffic accidents, outside city limits fall under the jurisdiction of the Colorado State Patrol. CSP is a fully-empowered law enforcement agency, but the primary mission is highway safety, not law enforcement. Very few sheriff's departments will respond to traffic accidents, hit & runs, etc, except in a support role, with primary responsibility left to CSP. Within the corporate limits of cities and towns the local police departments will handle most traffic matters.

        Colorado has a long history of respecting local authority (most notably after the National Guard intervention in labor disputes at Ludlow, commonly known as the "Ludlow Massacre"). Colorado State Patrol has no statutory responsibilities for criminal investigations or anything other than traffic enforcement (although each State Trooper is a fully accredited peace officer with statewide authority, and it is not unusual for CSP officers to apprehend fugitives, major drug busts, etc).

        Might be an anomaly unique to Colorado, but I suspect that other states divide up the pie based upon legal mandates and statutory responsibilities.

        Another factor that may be in play is state laws mandating the duties of elected and appointed officials. Commonly, the county sheriff is charged with operating the jail, serving the civil and criminal process of the county courts, and similar duties. When a request for traffic enforcement arises a sheriff's department may have a standard procedure in place to refer those complaints to the appropriate state patrol agency. It might be surprising to many people, but neither police nor sheriff departments are legally required to conduct routine patrols or respond to crime scenes; those responsibilities have accrued by the nature of society and the requirements of each community. According to the US Supreme Court no law enforcement agency or officer has any legal responsibility to protect any specific person or property.

        Other than long standing customs it might be no more than a matter of "that ain't our responsibility and we ain't got the budget to deal with it". I doubt that a deputy sheriff on uniformed patrol would ignore such a situation if it came to his attention, but local and regional law enforcement is not what might be expected in a major metropolitan area under a single jurisdiction, or with significant resources at hand at any given time.

        According to the USDOJ Uniform Crime Reports nearly 60% of all US law enforcement agencies are not staffed sufficiently to provide coverage by on-duty officers 24 hours per day or 7 days per week. In many communities off-duty personnel may respond on a "on call" status, and response times may be measured in hours rather than minutes. Many county sheriffs do not have enough deputies to keep one physically on duty at all times, and the same is true of thousands of small town police departments.

        Reality sucks, especially when you need help right now. Always remember that when seconds count the cops are minutes (or hours) away.
        Last edited by retired1995; 10-16-2019, 06:08 PM.


        • #5
          Don't know what part of the State you are in but SO's work traffic and crashes in the larger metropolitan areas and FHP will do it for the smaller more rural areas.


          • #6
            I'm with a college, we don't do it even on campus, much less within our 500-yard jurisdiction. We call state, they're experts on that stuff. Originally the reason was that they were gonna close the trooper post because of low call volume and we had several local troopers, so we started giving them all crashes and a lot of DUIs to help keep their numbers up.


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